I know people who were named for a revered family member or someone they greatly admired, but have you ever known anyone named after a political figure?
When Clabe and Leora Wilson’s second son was born, in September 1916, it was an election year. They waited until after the election to choose baby Donald’s middle name. Woodrow.
Incumbent Democratic President Woodrow Wilson defeated “Pussyfoot” Hughes, according to Leora Wilson’s memoirs, referring to former Governor of New York Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican candidate.
This wasn’t the first time a family member was named for a politician. A generation earlier, before Leora was old enough to go to school, the Goff family tried to make a go of farming in Knox County, Nebraska.
Leora father, M. S. “Sherd” Goff, was a fan of Nebraska’s William Jennings Bryan, an orator and politician. Because of his faith in the wisdom of the common people, this populist was often called “The Great Commoner.” At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered his “Cross of Gold speech” which attacked the gold standard. The Democratic convention nominated Bryan for president, making Bryan the youngest major party presidential nominee in U.S. history.
When Sherd and Laura Goff’s third son was born in January 1896, they named him Jennings Bryan Goff.
The Goff’s “went bust” in Nebraska and returned to Guthrie County, Iowa. According to Leora Wilson’s memoirs, she and two brothers wore Bryan caps to school at Stuart.
Probably only people interested in history would have any idea that these two relatives were named for admired politicians. As an adult, Jennings Goff went by “J.B. Goff.”